Muslim Traveler’s Itinerary for Iceland: South Ring Road Part I

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Muslim Traveler’s Itinerary for Iceland: South Ring Road Part I

The island nation of Iceland in the North Atlantic Ocean has been a long-time dream destination for many due to its other-worldly landscape. Being a shooting location for the popular TV series Game of Thrones (okay, don’t judge me you guys, I only watched the last season after giving up hopes that George R. R. Martin will ever finish the books) has only added to its popularity as fans seek to tread the magnificent land of ice that is home to Jon Snow.

Just over a 3-hour flight away from London, the history of Iceland begins as the home of the mighty Vikings. It is no surprise therefore that you will stumble across quite a few historic gems while you are there. Take for instance the Icelandic coat of arms, which depicts the four spirit guardians (the bull, the bird, the dragon, and the giant) for the land of fire and ice. As heard from the proud locals, the Bull roams the mountain tops to keep watch over the island from above, the poison-blowing Dragon with a tail of serpents protectively circles the angry waters around the island, the monstrous Bird soars above the island ready to flap its giant wings into intruders, and the Giant with his iron staff with his head higher than the mountains guards the south coast from its seat at Vikarsskeid.

With that healthy dose of a history lesson, here comes my 4-day itinerary for a road trip in southern Iceland. Let me remind you that weather conditions and the availability of organized tours in Iceland can vary significantly with seasons. This tour was taken during early spring, so make sure to adjust your itinerary according to the season you are traveling at.

Additionally, remember to take your salah mat, prayer garb (for sisters) and a printout of the prayer times during your road trip. Having a printed prayer time would not only be handy in case you are left without connectivity, but it will also help you structure and schedule your itinerary based around prayer times. Reaching Keflavik airport early in the day, we planned for a packed day to begin the tour with, while our enthusiasm and energy levels were at their peaks. We picked up our car from the airport (there are several options for car rentals to choose from) and headed straight out of Reykjavik into the South Ring Road, aiming for the spectacular waterfalls dotted around the surprisingly linear and seemingly never-ending Route 1.

We took the add-on Wi-Fi hotspot along with our car and that honestly made navigation and general query search very easy throughout our trip. Unless you already have international data on your phone, I’d recommend you opt for the Wi-Fi hotspot option.

The first stop was Seljalandfoss, literally meaning ‘selling the land of waterfalls’. As you will notice eventually, the Icelandic language having rooted from, and till today remaining the closest preservation to, Old Norse (the common language of the Vikings), naming in Iceland is generally done quite literally following events or observations.

Seljalandfoss is the popular waterfall of Iceland that lets you walk behind its mighty curtain of falling and spraying water, drenching you to the bone on the process, and precisely giving you the reason for an experience you shouldn’t miss at any cost.

Be sure to carry waterproof overalls or you will find yourself sneakily changing inside the questionable privacy of your car’s backseat! A few minutes of drive from the first fall, you come across the picturesque Skógafoss, the one which showcases double rainbows on sunny days due to the sheer amount of water sprays it creates around it. The waterfall tumbles down over the cliff of the former coastline, which has now receded further into the ocean allowing visitors to stand in front of the fall and appreciate its magnanimity. We took a climb up to the Fimmvörðuháls pass running between the glaciers Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdafsjokull to see the source of the fall and to take a very windy stroll through the path that leads to the popular hiking destination of Thórsmörk (Yep you got it right, the Norse God Thor’s Valley, although sources confirm that he might not have been as good-looking as Chris Hemsworth!). The next spot we attempted was the Dyrholaey Arch viewpoint. We skipped the Sólheimasandur beach (aka the desolate plane wreck beach) which was on our way to the Dyrholaey due to worsening weather conditions and because none of us were too keen to walk 8-km round-trip in the rain and storm just for a photo with a wrecked plane. Instead, we decided to eventually visit the black sand beach by the town of Vik which was more easily accessible by car. Now the black sand beach is a rare spectacle of nature, which we wouldn’t miss for anything. Why I say we ‘attempted’ the Dyrholaey arch viewpoint is another story. By the time we reached the exit for the viewpoint, the winds and rain had gotten furious. The muddy path for cars to the top of the hill was more suitable for 4×4 cars than it was for our considerably tiny station wagon.

We still decided to give it a try and after some fifteen minutes of careful navigation by the driver (and anxious duahs by the passengers), we made it to the top. As soon as one of us opened our car door, a violent wind destructively flung it open. We figured none of us had the body mass to withstand the push of that gale and we readily shuffled back into the car to make our way a few kilometers down to Vik I Myrdal and wait a while for the weather to calm down before getting to the black sand beach.

On reaching Vik I Myrdal, the quaint southernmost sea-facing village of Iceland, we settled for lunch at a fuel station with gorgeous views of the Reynisdrangar rock formations on the sea just off the shore. Vik is also the perfect place to top up your tank if you are visiting further east as fuel stations are very few and far between.

All fuel stations in Iceland we had come across had both ready and prepared meals. You will get a few vegetarian options, if not fish, on all stations. Once the wind and rain calmed down, we took a stroll along the famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach of Vik. Witnessing the unique volcanic beach makes you wonder if you’re still on planet Earth.

We had to battle some deadly wind to stroll through the beach but being ‘blown away’ (pun intended) is part of your Icelandic experience. A beautiful aluminum sculpture, The Voyages Friendship Statue, stands at the edge of the beach at Vik paying tribute to the heroic Icelanders who make their living at the menacing sea and the families who fear they will not return.

Bidding goodbye to the peaceful village of Vik and its iconic white Reyniskirkja church, we decided to call it a day and drove back westward to find our farm stay at the snow-covered village of Stora Mork III. It would have been a lot more convenient if we could find accommodation at Vik itself, however, due to delayed booking, the prices had skyrocketed for our dates and we were forced to drive opposite to our route plan for the night.

Stay tuned for Part II (South Ring Road), Part III (Golden Circle), and IV (Reykjavik and Blue Lagoon)!


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